In pursuit of the President’s goal of national preparedness, it is essential that the nation has reliable chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosives (CBRNE) countermeasures equipment that can be used with confidence for the protection of life, health, property and commerce.
The Departments of Homeland Security and Commerce, working through the White House Office of Science & Technology Policy, released the National Strategy for CBRNE Standards, which describes the federal vision and goals for the coordination, prioritization, establishment, and implementation of CBRNE equipment standards by 2020.
This Strategy—created by the Cabinet-level National Science and Technology Council, which is the principal means within the executive branch for coordinating interagency science and technology policies—represents the federal consensus regarding the development of standards for CBRNE equipment used by federal, state, local, and tribal responders for CBRNE detection, protection, and decontamination. The Strategy is the result of a process that included the identification of current research efforts and practices with respect to performance specifications and test methods, as well as standards-development needs of all relevant federal entities.
The Strategy concludes that achievement of the following goals will be key to ensuring technical performance and interoperability of CBRNE technology, appropriate equipment deployment, and effective user training:
- Establish an interagency group for CBRNE standards to promote the coordination of such standards among federal, state, local, and tribal communities
- Coordinate and facilitate the development and adoption of CBRNE equipment performance standards
- Coordinate and facilitate the development and adoption of CBRNE equipment interoperability standards
- Promote enduring CBRNE standard operating procedures
- Establish voluntary CBRNE training and certification standards and promote policies that foster their adoption
- Establish a comprehensive CBRNE equipment testing and evaluation (T&E) infrastructure and capability to support conformity assessment standards
The first of these goals was achieved on April 15, 2011, with the establishment of the Subcommittee on CBRNE Standards under the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Homeland and National Security. The Subcommittee has already begun to create a plan for achieving the Strategy’s remaining goals.
This Strategy explains the need for CBRNE standards. In addition to specifying high-level goals, this Strategy identifies lead activities to accomplish these goals, and provides the foundation to bridge current gaps. As such, it establishes a structure to facilitate the coordination of CBRNE investments and activities among agency leaders, program managers, the research and testing community, and the private sector.
The Strategy covers equipment used by federal, state, local, and tribal responders for CBRNE detection, protection, and decontamination. Medical monitoring and diagnostic equipment, as well as equipment in the health and safety arena, are governed by specific regulatory and statutory authority.
The National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Committee on Homeland & National Security chartered the Subcommittee on Standards (SOS) to serve as an interagency forum to gather CBRNE Federal stakeholders. The interagency group is co-chaired by the Department of Homeland Security’s Science and Technology (S&T) Directorate and the Department of Commerce’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). Participants include from the Departments of Agriculture, Commerce, Defense, Energy, Health and Human Services, Homeland Security, Justice, Labor, and Transportation, and the Environmental Protection Agency. The goal of the SOS is to develop a National Strategy for CBRNE Standards.